PR Mondays: Blog Frog

Can you believe that it has been a whole month of PR Mondays already? In January we concentrated on getting your ways to get exposure to your blog and we have one more awesome article for you on that from Holly. I have been busy interviewing PR reps for major companies and for the rest of Feb I will share their thoughts directly with you. If you missed any of the Jan posts make sure to go back and get your blog ready!

By Holly Hamann, 1.30.2010

holly@theblogfrog.com

What is BlogFrog and how did it all start?

Every wonder how BlogFrog got its start?  I’m delighted to be guest blogging for Barb and I thought I’d share a little bit of background on what BlogFrog is and how it all got started.

BlogFrog is the brainchild of Rustin Banks, who developed the beta product in 2008 during nights and weekends while still a full-time engineer at a local Aerospace company.  Banks said he got the idea from his wife, a casual blogger who used her blog to keep their friends and family updated.  There was no simple way for blog authors to have real discussions with readers and interact on their blogs. “A blog might have thousands of like-minded readers but what if I want to ask another reader a question or share my own blog content?” he used to ask his wife, Tara.

Rusty recruited me to help build the company and launch the service to the blogosphere. In early 2009, we both quit our jobs to run BlogFrog full-time.  Within months, BlogFrog’s social widgets had struck a chord with mom bloggers, who have become the company’s largest market.

People often ask us why women and mom bloggers have become such big fans. Our social features really resonate with them because women are inherently community and service oriented.  Women and moms tend to be more social online than men and also tend to form stronger online relationships.

There are 120,000 new blogs created every day and the total number of people engaging with blogs is expected to reach 150 million by 2012 (source: Technorati).  Every person has a unique story to tell and people are gravitating to blogs as a way to share what they know.  The social web is evolving from large, single-destination social sites to an integrated network of millions of smaller, niche blogs, all connected by a common platform.  Our vision is to be the common social platform that connects all blogs.

By cross-pollinating content within a single network of blogs via the social widgets, BlogFrog helps bloggers increase exposure and traffic for their blogs.

So how exactly does it work?

BlogFrog serves both bloggers and blog readers.  Blog authors can add widgets to their blogs that let them see who visits their blogs (the Recent Visitors widget) and they can let their readers interact with each other by adding a community (Community widget).  The Community widget lets readers ask each others questions, see each others’ blog posts, and each other’s content from social networks like Twitter.  You can see what these widgets look like here:

BlogFrog has quickly grown to over 25,000 members, making it the largest, integrated network of mom blogs on the internet. The network grows because whenever a member visits another BlogFrog blog or community, their profile picture and blog URL shows up for all visitors to see. So the more BlogFrog sites and communities a member visits, the more exposure their own blog gets.  You could also call this “viral growth”. BlogFrog has taken off as the best way to create a way for blog readers to interact.

You can learn more by visiting BlogFrog!

Understanding Your Blog Statistics

Please welcome today’s guest poster, Tara Anderson. She is one very smart cookie and has some amazing advice for you on getting to know your readers. Knowing who your readers are is very important when working with PR! You will need this information when pitching and determining which pitches will work well on your blog. Let’s give our guest lots of comment love-which by the way is now do-follow:) Our guest blogger next week will explain why that really helps you!

My name is Tara and I’m a stats junkie. While acknowledging is the first and most difficult step, I haven’t always been this way. It really started when I took a job at Lijit and began to understand the power that useful analytics have. There is no excuse, in this new decade, not to know as much as possible about your blog readers.

[Disclaimer: I work for Lijit. I check Google Analytics occasionally and only understand them at the most basic level. If you’re looking for an explanation of GA, I’m the wrong person. And this is the wrong post.]

You might have heard some talk or read some posts about “reader intent”. The most basic definition of this is exactly what you might think: what is a reader doing on my site. I hope they’re laughing at my most recent attempt at humor, but I don’t know that for sure. I also want them to get a better feeling of who I am, but that’s another thing I can’t be certain is happening. What I do know, if I have Lijit installed on my blog, is what my readers are doing with that search box.

And that, my friends, is where the power of the Lijit stats comes into play. Let me show you what I mean…

Think you don’t have readers in other countries?

Think again. With the world getting smaller, chances are better than ever that your page views are coming from a variety of places around the globe. Turns out I have way more readers in Spain than I ever thought.  Also…with this stat, I ALWAYS know when my mom has been reading my blog. Tell me, that’s not useful information.

Curious about how people are finding your blog?

Statistics screenshot: Top Searches

Who isn’t? This list tells you exactly what people are typing into Google, Bing or Yahoo in order to end up on your site. In addition to being highly entertaining, it gives you a window into what people, or at least the search engines, think you’re an expert in. (And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was an extra in the movie Office Space.)

Care about community?

Statistics screenshot: blogroll

What kind of a blogger would you be if you didn’t? We let you know what other blogrolls you’re showing up on so that you can return the favor, or at least send a note of thanks. Lijit has over 2 million blogs in our network, so while there might be a few omissions from that list, we know about a LOT of blogs. We probably have you covered.

At this point, you might be scratching your head and wondering to yourself, “Doesn’t Lijit provide search for my readers?” Yes, in fact we do, and that is where the analytics around reader intent become most interesting. Especially if you’re a stats junkie like me.

What are people searching for on my blog?

Statistics screenshot: Top Searches

This is the bucket o’gold, folks. Unless you’re paying big money for a stats package, you’re not going to be able to find this information anywhere else. Your readers are actually typing terms into your Lijit search box…this is ENGAGEMENT at its finest. (Well, besides comments, which we all love…) But taking the energy to find out more about your content means that your readers are actually doing something other than just reading your blog—perfect example of intent. They are looking for more and Lijit is helping them to find it.

What should I be writing about?

Statistics screenshot: Last Search

The million dollar question, right? While my personal Lijit stat doesn’t include anything on the above list, let’s say that the term “blogging” was on there. If someone is searching for blogging on my site and not getting any results, that’s a huge lightbulb and the very next thing I should be writing about. Because I care about my audience and because they think I know something about blogging…which may or may not be true. J

In the interest of space, I’ve shown only five examples from the many different stats we provide. We also let you know what search results your readers are clicking on the most, what search engine they’re most frequently coming from and how much money you’re making on ads. You didn’t think I was going to skip over the money part, did you?

Our service definitely helps your readers to find even more of the awesome stuff. That’s important. But, in my opinion, our true value lies in how we can help you, the blogger, to be an even better blogger. You don’t have to pay anything for Lijit and the information we give you…priceless. (Not to mention that we make things super easy by emailing you a weekly stats summary every Sunday night!)

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment (we listen!) or tweet something out (we care!). I’m happy to help as well, so shoot me an email (tara@lijit.com).

It’s easy to sign up and install Lijit. You can do so here, if you’re interested: www.lijit.com

I appreciate Barb giving me a chance to explain a bit about the stats that Lijit offers and if you’re still wondering about Lijit, give our search a try at the top of her blog. She’s using our WordPress plugin, which allows you to hijack your default WordPress search bar. (Insert blog terrorist joke here.)

Thanks again and I hope to see you all Lijit soon!

About Tara:
Tara’s been a public school teacher, restaurant manager, stand-up comedienne, massage therapist, and is now the Marketing Manager for Lijit. She spends her days reaching out to new and potential Lijit users along with maintaining the company’s blog and Twitter account. When not figuring out new ways of growing the Lijit community, she enjoys backpacking, running and writing about funny things that happen to her over at her personal blog, TallTara.com.

Would you like to be a guest blogger for PR Mondays? Send me an email.

Sample PR Pitches to Bloggers

Yes, I do know it is Tuesday….

Yesterdays discussion on PR Goals is so important and I want to discuss a little more in detail when a pitch is worth your time and when it just isn’t. We have some wonderful guest bloggers in the next few weeks so I need take an extra day to make sure we are all on the same page as far as knowing what your pr goals are.

What is your time worth? Only you can determine that. I have a ballpark hourly rate in my head of what mine is.

Lets look at some recent pitch offers from my inbox and see what you think. It is important to note, no money is exchanged in this pitches. This is a ‘value trade’. Is the value of what is being traded worth your blogging time?

DVD: $20 (this is one my kids absolutely want)

* Time to watch: 90 minutes
* Time to post: 30 minutes (to get all the embedded files and photos in as well as my view)
* Time in contact with PR: 10 minutes (emails)
* Package pickup: 20 minutes (I use a UPS box. I never give my home address)
* Total time invested: 130 minutes, 2 hours, 10 minutes.
* What I am working for: roughly $9.50 an hour

Is this worth my time? Yes….

In the case of a kids movie that I am most likely going to buy and watch with the kids anyway that is worth it to me. I would have spent that time (and money to buy it) anyway! If it was a pitch on a movie that I would not have normally purchased, I would turn this down. No way is my time worth $9.50 an hour (that is MY individual take, yours could be completely different, especially as you are starting out).

Is it worth your time?

Look at this pitch: A company wanted to send 5 free product coupons for a food item in exchange for running a review post AND a giveaway of 2 coupons to the winner.The cost of this product was .99-$3 depending where you got it and the size.

* Time to pick up product from store: 20 minutes
* Time to post: 30 minutes (to get all the embedded files and photos in as well as my view)
* Time in contact with PR: 10 minutes (emails)
* Package pickup: 20 minutes (I use a UPS box. I never give my home address)
*Time to run giveway: 5 hours min.
* Total time invested: 7 hours
*Cost to mail coupons to winner: $1
* What I am working for: assuming the product costs me $3 (the max allowed on the coupon) I am making $2 per hour.

Is this worth my time? NO!

Is this worth your time?

Of course you get to determine that. One thing I see ‘newer’ bloggers doing is taking the offers as a way to get ‘in’ with a company. I have been guilty of it but one thing I have learned is that the reps that send these pitches never have better ones come along. This is the caliber of pitch you can count on getting in the future, especially since you have now just shown you are willing to work for that amount. I asked several blogging buddies and they all agree this has been the case for them as well.

Now, here is different spin on the above pitch. A company asks you to do essentially the same pitch as above BUT they want you to really get to know their company so they would like to fly you out and take you and several other bloggers on a tour. Typically these trips cover the cost of transportation to the airport, your flight, room for 1-2 nights, food and drink during your stay, and gift cards to cover any incidentals you incur. You also usually leave with some very nice swag (gifts).

Is this worth my time? Absolutely and not necessarily because of the free trip to meet up with blogging buds (although that certainly helps). These are the types of companies that are looking to form long term relationships! They have invested a great deal of time researching the bloggers they want to work with. These companies (from personal experience) return time and time again throughout the year with interesting pitches. They send you little goody bags when you least expect it. The reps call to check on your kids when you post they are sick (no kidding!) and these companies and reps are the first to pass your name on to their peers and include you in premium opportunities.

Everyone wants to know, what are some of the bigger items bloggers have obtained through PR. This past year I saw bloggers receive leased cars, a household full of major appliances, family trips to Disney (and lots of other destinations), cruises, and red carpet events to name a few. Of course, these go to select few but if this part of your pr goals it is certainly possible. Especially as I have heard from several pr reps that in 2010 companies will be looking outside the box of already known bloggers.

Hopefully determining your ‘hourly’ rate has helped you determine what pitches you are willing to work on and those you are not. I want to throw a word of caution in here about giveaways as a lot of pitches will offer to send you the product and one to giveaway. Giveaways take a tremendous amount of time to run correctly! Next week we are going to be talking about traffic to your blog and giveaways may be worth the time in terms of traffic for you but we really need to talk down the line on thinking through giveaway offers.

Next Monday, Tara from Lijit will be here to talk about stats. She is going to help us analyze and decipher all those numbers so that we can see where we are and where we would like to be! It may be useful for you to install a Lijit widget on your site to gather info this week. I use 4 different stat programs: Google Analytics, Lijit, Compete, and AWStats. This gives me a pretty complete picture of what is happening on my sites.

Until then, get those goals written down and catch up on the series by reading these:

Product Reviews: How To Get Started

PR Peeps I Recommend

Finding Public Relations Contacts

*PR Monday graphic made by Toni-Lynn at Delightful Chaos. Visit her, she is cool!

I would love to hear your thoughts on pitches and what you will and won’t accept in the comments!